Prepare for Your Blood Donation

Even if you’ve donated blood many times before, it’s still a good idea to review the steps you should take before, during, and after donating. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll have the best blood donation experience possible!

Before Your Donation

Eligibility and Appointments

First, make sure that you’re eligible to donate blood. It’s important to know that some donation programs have their own set of requirements. One example is a donor must weigh at least 110 pounds. This is because our blood volume is proportionate to our own body weight. For donor safety, individuals weighing less than 110 pounds may not tolerate the removal of the required volume of blood as well as those who weigh more. So, if you’re new to donating, reach out to your local center to learn about specific eligibility rules.

Next, make an appointment. Your time is valuable and we don’t want you to have to wait at our center. Scheduling an appointment ensures that there will be staff on hand to process your donation in a timely manner. You can call (833) GO-4-CURE or use our online appointment scheduling form.

What You Should and Shouldn't Eat

Certain foods and drinks can help you avoid common blood donation side-effects, like fatigue.

Here are some foods you SHOULD eat before donating blood:

  • Iron-rich foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs and beans
  • Vitamin C, which can be found in citrus fruits and juices, cantaloupe, mangos, pineapples, berries, watermelons and tomatoes
  • Water or water-based hydration beverages

And here’s what you SHOULDN’T eat before donating:

  • Fatty foods, such as french fries or ice cream
  • Iron blockers, like coffee and tea
  • High-calcium foods, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and chocolate
  • Aspirin (but only for certain types of blood donations)
  • Alcohol

Get Your Rest

Sleeping for at least eight hours the night before you donate blood will help you recover quickly after your donation.

Make an Appointment

On the Day of Your Donation

Wear Comfortable Clothes

One of the “rookie mistakes” made by new donors is wearing a tight, long-sleeved shirt that is difficult to roll up. Instead, wear a loose, comfortable shirt, so the technician can easily access your arm.

Complete Your Paperwork

If it’s your first time visiting BSC, you will be asked to fill out some forms about your medical history, medication use, and other factors that could affect your donation.

A medical assistant or technician may also need to check your blood pressure and heart rate to make sure you’re healthy enough to donate blood.

Get Ready to Relax

A whole blood donation can take 15 minutes, a plasma donation can take over an hour, and a leukapheresis procedure can take from one to four hours. So, you may want to bring a book and/or some headphones. Many of our donor centers have TVs and tables with movie options to help the time pass.

After the Procedure

Right After Your Donation

After your donation is complete, you should eat! All of our centers offer a variety of snacks to replenish your fluid and sugar levels after donating blood.

For at least five hours after your donation, you should avoid strenuous physical activity and heavy lifting. Also, keep your bandage on and dry.

That Evening and the Next Few Days

In the days after your blood donation, you may want to drink extra fluids and eat iron-rich foods, like meat, poultry, and fish. If you feel lightheaded, lie down with your feet up until the feeling passes. If you’re bleeding after removing your bandage, put pressure on your arm and raise it until the bleeding stops. You may also want to put an ice pack on your arm to help reduce the risk of bruising.

Now that you're ready to donate blood, click here to schedule an appointment or contact us at (833) GO-4-CURE to learn more.


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